Department of Career Development

(Now Part of Department of Labor and Economic Growth)

The Michigan Department of Career Development (MDCD) is the outgrowth of an initiative by then-Gov. John Engler (Executive Order 1999-1) to split the former Michigan Jobs Commission into two parts. One part became the MDCD, and the other part became the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The MDCD concentrates on delivering federally sponsored job training and placement services, and MEDC is the state’s chief dispenser of corporate welfare and "economic development" programs.

The mission of the MDCD, according to its 2001 annual report, is "to continuously improve the Career Development System [to] produce a workforce with the required skills to maintain and enhance Michigan’s economy." Then-Gov. Engler preferred to see the department "focus solely on workforce issues;" however, his Director of department, Barbara Bolin, pressed for an expanded mission "to increase education and technical skills for career placement or advancement," and … "to provide services, build partnerships and coordinate efforts" with the business community. [1]

The MDCD is a coordinating bureaucracy that simply manages workforce programs. The department is funded largely by the federal government, which provides 88 percent of its operating money.

In 1998, Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). Congress intended this legislation to "integrate and streamline services," as well as encourage "informed consumer choice regarding career development, universal access to government employment and training services, more systematic accountability, performance-based management; strong local governance of employment-related government services, active private sector participation, and increased labor market responsiveness at state and local levels." [2]

WIA consolidated 17 separate federal programs to coordinate and control employment and training through a mandatory, national system of local one-stop career centers (in Michigan they are known as Michigan Works! Service Centers, or "one-stops") and regional and state workforce development boards (in Michigan the board is known as the Michigan Works! Association), all reporting to the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Prior to WIA, federal workforce programs such as job training and education fell under the federal government’s Job Training Partnership Act of 1982 (JTPA). Through the 1970s and early 1980s JTPA had become the largest job-training program in the country. But WIA dramatically expanded employment services coverage areas, and at the same time began to displace private labor market activities previously served by the private staffing services industry. In effect, WIA introduced a new personal entitlement into the national workforce system: adult job placement for the currently employed. No longer did recipients have to be unemployed to received services.

However, the state of Michigan is not required under the normal administration of American federalism to implement the federal statutes, including the Workforce Investment Act. This state power was reinforced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s New York decision in 1994. [3] The state of Michigan should refuse to accept federal funding for the programs operated by the MDCD and shut down the MDCD and eliminate all the programs run through it.

Last Fall, in preparation for the Congressional reauthorization of the Federal Workforce Investment Act former Director Bolin recommended an expansion of MDCD functions, and requested an expansion of federal financing of the Michigan workforce system. [4]

Instead of a call for more federal funding, Gov. Granholm and her new appointee should use this opportunity to call for an end to federal intervention in job training and employment.

As demonstrated below, nearly every program provides services that duplicate, and often interfere with, private sector providers of identical or superior services. Programs that are not duplicative are capable of being provided by local community associations or businesses. Although labor markets, like government planners, are imperfect, they have been operating efficiently since long before governments began providing job searches and training for Michigan citizens, and will continue to do so in the absence of this department. (For more information on refusing federal funds, see Appendix I.) This department should be eliminated.